Raheem Sterling struck twice and Fernandinho added another goal as Manchester City made it five wins in as many matches under new manager Pep Guardiola with a 3-1 victory at home to West Ham in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon.
Guardiola's men made hard work of seeing off the Hammers at Eastlands before securing a win that left City top of the league on goal difference above Chelsea and Manchester United, both title challengers with new managers that have also won their opening three matches.
Having raced into an early two-goal lead, a second-half header from West Ham's Michail Antonio ensured City endured an anxious final half hour, a fact reflected in Pep Guardiola's growing frustration in his technical area, before Sterling scored his second goal in injury-time.
City scored twice in the opening 18 minutes although twice as many goals would not have flattered the home team, such was their complete domination over West Ham.
Sterling's opening goal was magnificently worked. David Silva showed great agility in midfield to slip the ball through for winger Nolito who picked out Sterling with a magnificent drag back, allowing the England man to finish confidently from 12 yards out.
That was the culmination of a frantic attacking opening from City and, while the goal perhaps took some of the intensity out of the home side's play, it only seemed a matter of when - not if - they would score again. Fernandinho had the answer in the 18th minute, rising unmarked to meet a Kevin De Bruyne free-kick and head past Adrian from seven yards.
West Ham’s early season injury problems, particularly the loss of star playmaker Dimitri Payet, was keenly felt and Willy Caballero – given the nod between the sticks once again over Joe Hart – was little more than a spectator. West Ham's first meaningful sight of goal, after half an hour, found Gokhan Tore picking out young forward Ashley Fletcher, whose header flew harmlessly wide. City's next attack was stunning - De Bruyne to Nolito to Silva to De Bruyne - and should have brought a third goal as the Belgian's shot was deflected behind for a corner.
After the restart, Nolito had the ball in the net only for the 'goal' to be ruled out for offside and came close once again with a shot into the side netting after yet another dangerous De Bruyne free-kick was only half-cleared. Sergio Aguero looked dangerous throughout, racing clear not long after to round Adrian but was left frustrated after being flagged offside.
West Ham grabbed an unexpected lifeline on 57 minutes, however. A left-wing cross from Arthur Masuaka, who had been flirting with a red card after an early yellow, picked out his team-mate at the far post and, with Caballero unable to gather the ball, Antonio out-jumped Nicolas Otamendi and Gael Clichy to head in.
Aguero was becoming more of a factor in the second half, hitting the side netting with an effort before poking a shot which deflected off Sam Byram and needed to be saved by Adrian. Sterling finally allowed City supporters, and his manager, to relax in injury-time when he collected Silva's through ball, rounded the goalkeeper and rolled the ball over the line from a tight angle.
However, potential disciplinary action facing Sergio Aguero could cast a shadow over the result. The Argentine appeared to throw an elbow at West Ham defender Winston Reid and, if judged to be deliberate, he could face retrospective punishment.
Guardiola said to the press after the game that he did not see the incident but was well aware of what it could mean going forward: "If we lose him, we lose him… we will still have 11.”
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